Turner Construction – 3 White Flint North

A year of preconstruction resulted in savings in the design and construction of a 14-story building that is part of the 32-acre North Bethesda Center office park. “Turner performed budget analysis and value-engineering throughout the preconstruction process,” Project Manager Steve Michalak points out. “One of the features that was value-engineered was the exterior wall of the building. The wall used to be a more expensive glass curtain wall. By changing it to a combination of precast and ribbon and punch windows, substantial savings were achieved.”

High-efficiency elevators and energy-efficient mechanical equipment also were incorporated during the preconstruction process. The 649,000-square-foot reinforced concrete frame building utilizes post-tensioned beams to incorporate an open floor plan. The laminated insulated glass unit, high-efficiency windows contain an intermediate polyvinyl butyral layer of material to reflect sunlight. The precast concrete panels are acid-etched and will have multiple tan and gray color tones.

Silver and Green

The 3 White Flint North building is the second structure on the 32-acre site. Construction of 3 White Flint North began in July 2010 and base building construction is expected to continue through April 2012.

The developers of the building are LCOR, a commercial developer, and the property owner is Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The North Bethesda Center has up to eight different building sites planned for development that will be built as they are leased. Plans for an additional residential tower are proceeding.

HOK, the 3 White Flint North architect, has designed the building to achieve LEED Silver certification. Approximately one-fourth of its roof will be green. Other green features include the use of three high-efficiency, frictionless chillers as part of the air conditioning system for the building. Air handling units will distribute the conditioned air to variable air volume units to provide heat. A boiler and circulated hot water also will be utilized to distribute heat efficiently throughout the building.

Underground Vault

Included with the building is a network of site utilities for the entire North Bethesda Center complex. These include storm sewers, water mains, sanitary sewers, electrical duct banks and an underground concrete stormwater quantitative management vault. Located several parcels east of the 3 White Flint North building, the vault measures approximately 160 feet by 115 feet by 12 feet deep and is covered with 15 feet of earth.

“It is a stormwater management pond that is underground,” Michalak explains. “The stormwater collects inside it and then gradually filters out into the adjacent creeks so they are not flooded. It is a big holding tank that will have a park built on top of it for residents in adjacent towers to enjoy.

The 3 White Flint North building had been under development for several years. “We were looking at this job for a couple years before we actually went under contract, and it was called White Flint North,” Michalak remembers. “It was a speculative office building, with the design in place. Construction moved forward once a tenant had been selected.

Once the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) became the tenant, a value-engineering process began. “The process kept evolving after that and went through the estimated budgets, fine-tuning the design and establishing the final budget,” he recalls. The NRC plans to use the building as office space.

Evolving Building 

The evolution of 3 White Flint North has continued during construction and resulted in additional changes.

“Some are big, and involved mechanical, electrical, security, structural changes, and making the mechanical system more efficient to save energy over the long term,” Michalak notes. “We incorporated a change to add vehicle barriers around the perimeter of the building to increase security.”

The project is using BIM for coordination and electronic document management to use as little paper as possible. “In order to be more green and environmentally friendly, we are using a paperless submittal and approval process, where we send all the shop drawings and submittals for approval electronically,” Michalak explains.

“The 3WFN project has been unique to our team, as we have implemented a paperless project control process with HOK and the design engineers, subcontractors and LCOR for the submittal review and approval process,” he adds. “It saves time, paper, postage and courier costs. Our efforts also include last planner scheduling, which promotes subcontractor input and buy-in for a more efficient project.”

Excellent Team

Michalak expects close to 40 subcontractors to work on the project, of which Turner is managing the construction.

“We have an excellent team in place,” he says of the subcontractors. “We have a large number of them we’ve worked with previously. We also have a couple new subcontractors that we are working with for the first time. There are challenges, but that’s to be expected with a large project adjacent to a metro station. The entire team is very focused on safety, quality and scheduling.” Turner’s key partners include JCM Associates Inc.

“We have been doing a lot of change-order pricing for the government as they look to incorporate new features to the job,” Michalak adds. “That can be a time-consuming process.” With tenant fit-out and additional government base building modifications, he expects the cost of the project to exceed $100 million. Turner was ranked the No. 1 green building contractor by Engineering News-Record in 2010.

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